The setting is that of Neo-Tokyo, a Tokyo rebuilt (over what is today Tokyo Bay) after World War III destroyed it. As it turns out, World War III was (arguably) started by the uncontrolled growth of the superhuman powers of a child named Akira, who was enrolled in a secret government research program. In the story’s current time, 30 years after WWIII, a gang of young bikers led by the cocky Shotaro Kaneda is involved in a fight with a rival gang when the gang’s youngest member, Tetsuo Shima, collides with a mysterious child on the highway. This child has escaped from the government psychic research program. Tetsuo is then taken to the government psychic research base with the child and subjected to various guinea pig experiments. The incident with the mysterious child as well as the tests awaken Tetsuo’s own latent powers, with disastrous consequences both on the personal level, as old interpersonal conflicts with his friends resurface, and on the larger level, as Neo-Tokyo is threatened by another Akira incident.